Staying in Many Places
Suffolk County, England-based five-piece metal outfit Never a Hero is one of those bands who can’t quite be placed into a single subgenre or category. Are they pop-metal? Part of a new wave of screaming trash? Rap-rock? Atmospheric nu metal? UnEvolutioN, their second full-length album, shows a band can be all of these things, but in this case the results vary from song to song and sound to sound.
The intro is “A Thousand Days Wasted,” beginning with sound effects and electronic drums, and finally full-out screaming, but it’s a teaser track, about a minute long. UnEvolutioN starts in earnest with “Mr. Munchausen,” appropriately about a guy who hides his emotions behind disguises. This one track features melodic shouting, hard-pounding drums, an electronic break, a ripping guitar solo and a catchy chorus, but all of the transitions are smooth. “Nightboy” begins with some sound effects and quickly becomes a Blink 182 song, but with more violent percussion. Later in the number, the beats and instrumentation change, but the basic tune remains the same.
“Not Too Cool to Dance” starts with deliberately cheesy electronics, but becomes a Linkin Park rap-metal tune. “It’s the Way” is more synth-heavy than the others, and it’s at this point the listener is struck by how American Never a Hero comes across. There’s even a touch of Matchbox Twenty in this track; the very epitome of Yankee music. As if they realized this, vocalist Phrixus puts on a British accent in the shouting elements of “Kramer” and in the rapping parts of “The Idiots are Winning.” The word “wanker” is called into play in “Succubus.” So oh yeah — Never a Hero is British.
There are some soft, moody moments as well, including the beginning of “Falling Up” and the album closer, “Time to Crucify.” The latter includes some contemplating and rushed vocal deliveries in the verses and a tuneful yet heavy chorus. These dynamic changes are credited to drummer Daisy Lai who is endlessly trying to push the songs in this direction or that. UnEvolutioN is the anticlimactic panoply the title and its rule-bending typography implies; you want the music to become something more, but it doesn’t evolve, which is not from a lack of trying.